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TO: All Murrumbidgee Media
DATE: Tuesday 19 May 2020
SUBJECT: Aged Care visitor restrictions eased
LINK: MLHD Statement - Aged Care Visitor Restrictions Eased 20 May 2020
In line with NSW government’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) has announced some relaxation around visitation in Aged Care residences.
MLHD’s Aged Care Manager Rosemary Garthwaite said the original measures were put in place to safe guard elderly residents who are vulnerable against the COVID virus.
The District’s “two by two” strategy will allow each resident up to two designated visitors per day for a maximum of two hours.
“We will be enabling up to two designated people to visit family or friends in our residential aged care facilities for up to two hours each day,” said Ms Garthwaite. “This is an increase from one visitor for one hour only and is congruent with the easing of restrictions we are seeing elsewhere across the state and will be viewed regularly in line with state and commonwealth directions.”
Ms Garthwaite asks visitors and the community to be mindful when visiting elderly people.
“Our key priority is to prevent elderly residents from becoming infected,” said Ms Garthwaite. “We ask people to avoid visiting loved ones if they are feeling unwell, or have cold or flu like symptoms.”
For those who live farther away, or may be feeling unwell, there are lots of opportunities to stay connected.
“We understand how important social connection is, so we encourage people to talk with the facility manager about how they can connect with their loved one via technology,” said Ms Garthwaite. “In many cases, people are able to speak with family members more often that they had been if they were visiting in person.”
MLHD continues to temperature check and ensure appropriate hand hygiene measures are in place for all visitors to Aged Care facilities. Visitors are also required to show evidence of their 2020 flu vaccination.
TO: All Murrumbidgee Media
DATE: Monday 18 May 2020
SUBJECT: Testing does not indicate immunity
LINK: MLHD Statement - COVID-19 Test and Repeat
Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is reminding local residents that a negative test result for COVID-19 does not suggest immunity to the disease, and that people must self-isolate while awaiting test results.
MLHD Director of Public Health, Tracey Oakman, said it is important for people not to develop a false sense of security after being tested, as the result only indicates COVID status at the time the test was taken.
“If you receive a negative test result, that is fantastic, but it doesn’t mean you are immune to COVID-19 or that you won’t subsequently contract the disease,” she said.
“If you develop symptoms again, in the following week for example, please get tested again.
“It is important for people to understand that over time, they may need to be tested multiple times, and that is a responsible thing to do.”
Ms Oakman said it is also important for people to self-isolate at home while they are waiting for test results.
“In the Murrumbidgee area we are getting our results back in about 48 hours, so it’s not a long time,” she said.
“Please stay at home until you receive notification, so you know for sure your COVID result is negative before heading out into the community again.”
Ms Oakman said the community as a whole would benefit from this approach, as it was important for people not to pass on any respiratory conditions at this time, including the flu and the common cold.
“If you’re sick, do your best to keep that illness to yourself.
“At the moment, anyone with respiratory symptoms needs to self-isolate and not attend work, so we want to reduce all respiratory illnesses within the community.
“So far we are doing well with that, as we’ve had a significant drop in the number of flu cases compared to last year.”
COVID-19 testing is advised for people experiencing fever, dry cough, sore (scratchy) throat, shortness of breath or a runny or stuffy nose. To book a test call 1800 831 099
TO: All Murrumbidgee Media
DATE: Tuesday 12 May 2020
SUBJECT: COVID-19 exercise caution
LINK: MLHD Statement COVID-19 exercise caution
Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is calling for residents to exercise caution with NSW Government announcement of a further easing of restrictions.
MLHD Public Health Director Tracey Oakman cautions that while restrictions are slowly lifting, it’s vitally important for people to still practice the basic principles of hand hygiene and social distancing.
“Many of us are looking forward to our communities gradually returning to a little bit of normality, but please continue to be careful and above all – if you feel unwell, get tested,” said Ms Oakman.
The NSW Government advised, the following activities will be allowed in NSW:
“The Murrumbidgee area has seen comparatively low numbers of positive COVID-19 cases, and we have been very lucky in terms of low numbers of community acquired transmissions,” said Ms Oakman.
“Now is not the time to become complacent, community transmissions could see our case numbers rise again, and we need to be vigilant in keeping on top of this virus,” said Ms Oakman.
MLHD urges community members to keep following the guidelines to minimise risk of community transmission.
“Members of the public are advised to minimise travel, continue to wash hands thoroughly and frequently and maintain our physical distance from others when we are out and about.”
TO: All Murrumbidgee Media
DATE: Monday 20 April 2020
SUBJECT: TEMPERATURE CHECKS IN MLHD
LINK: MLHD Media Statement - COVID-19 Temperature Checks 20 April 2020
Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is further tightening COVID-19 screening at its facilities with the introduction of temperature checks for staff and visitors.
Infra-red thermometer checks began at Griffith Base and Wagga Wagga Base hospitals on Thursday 16 April and will be rolled out at other facilities in the next few days.
MLHD Chief Executive Jill Ludford said, “We began the increased screening at the two base hospitals as they are our busiest facilities with the biggest number of staff and visitors.
“We now have additional thermometers and have a plan to roll out these measures across the District in coming days.”
The temperature monitoring are being conducted at access points to hospitals by staff using an approved temperature monitoring device to accurately measure the presence of fever.
In addition, there are screening questions including have you had contact with a COVID-19 positive case and do you have any flu-like symptoms?
If a visitor answers yes to any of these questions or has a temperature, they will be directed not to visit the hospital and to contact the MLHD COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 831 099.
If a staff member answers yes to any of these questions or has a temperature, the staff member will be placed on leave and asked to contact the MLHD COVID-19 Hotline 1800 831 099.
Additionally staff will be advised to stay home until the temperature resolves.
Staff are screened daily on entry to any facility and a different coloured sticker will be provided each day on their identification badge. This is in addition to daily staff wellness checks occurring at clinical handover, or the start of the day for non-clinical areas.
The new screening measure comes on top of visitor restrictions at MLHD hospitals and Multipurpose Services (MPS) in early April. Find out more here: https://www.mlhd.health.nsw.gov.au/about-us/newsroom/media-releases/covid-19-visitor-restrictions
TO: ALL MURRUMBIDGEE MEDIA
Murrumbidgee Local Health District urges people who have symptoms of COVID-19 to come forward to be screened for testing.
Large-scale COVID-19 testing allows health services to quickly identify who has the disease and arrange for them to receive the care needed. Isolating known cases prevents them from coming into contact with others and slows the rate of transmission.
The screening criteria has been broadened to enable more people to be tested for the COVID-19.
“We are commending those people who have come forward to be tested and followed the requirements around self-isolation. It is the people who should be tested, who are not coming forward that we are most concerned about,” said MLHD Chief Executive Jill Ludford.
“Once people are identified as being positive, we undertake contact tracing to identify anyone that they may have come in contact with. People with COVID-19 can become very unwell quickly, and we need ensure people get the appropriate care so that they have the best chance of recovery.”
“We applaud those who had the courage to come forward for testing. They are doing the right thing and giving us an opportunity to help track the disease and provide the right care.”
Slowing the rate of new infections reduces the peak of the disease, which can lower the overall number of cases.
“Not only is it concerning from a health perspective for those individuals who are symptomatic and have not sought testing, but they could be spreading the virus further.”
TO: All Murrumbidgee Media
DATE: Friday 10 April 2020
LINK: Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Mental health and wellbeing for children: Information for parents and carers
With recent news and media coverage about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), many children are being exposed to information that may make them feel scared and confused.
General practitioner and mental health expert, Dr Jonathan Ho said parents and carers have an important role in helping children understand what is happening by providing age-appropriate information and answering their questions.
"It’s a common thought that talking to your child or children about distressing topics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can upset them more," Dr Ho said.
"However, this is actually not the case. If you let your children talk about their fears and try to answer their questions in an honest and calm way, you can help them understand what is happening which helps children cope better during stressful times.
"Try to use language that your child will understand and stick with the facts. Let them know that this is only a temporary situation and things will get better with time.
With most media about COVID-19 aimed at an adult audience, they will often use stronger, more alarming language and I would encourage parents and carers to be mindful of exposure to television, radio and social media. Limiting these sources of information can help protect children from hearing too much complex information which they are unable to process properly.
"The most important thing to remember is that you know your child best and you know how much information they will be able to understand and handle," he said.
If you’re concerned about your child's wellbeing, you can call:
• your General Practitioner for advice
• Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or visit kidshelpline.com.au
• headspace on 1800 650 890 or visit headspace.org.au
• Parent Line NSW on 1300 1300 52 or visit www.parentline.org.au
• headspace Wagga Wagga - (02) 6923 3170 or Griffith - (02) 6962 3277
• MPHN Central Access and Navigation Service 1800 931 603
• Murrumbidgee AccessLine 1800 800 944
Murrumbidgee Local Health District COVID-19 Hotline Hours
MLHD COVID-19 Hotline is open seven days a week, from 7.00 am to 9.00 pm.
The number to call for assessment is 1800 831 099.
For serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) for urgent medical help.
The national COVID-19 hotline 1800 020 0780 remains open for anyone seeking information on coronavirus. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Emergency Departments continue to provide emergency care across the District.
People requiring non-emergency care should continue to contact their local General Practitioner. Health Direct is available for free health advice on 1800 022 22 or visit www.healthdirect.gov.au
NSW Health recently broadened the testing criteria for COVID-19 and MLHD has expanded further to include any person with symptoms of respiratory illness, regardless of travel or contact history.
This will provide for a better understanding of the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities as well as early identification of any cases to prevent further transmission.
COVID-19 Testing Clinics are currently located in Cootamundra, Deniliquin, Griffith, Hay, Leeton, Tumut, and Wagga Wagga. Appointments are essential by calling 1800 831 099.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, sore throat and dry cough. Symptoms will generally appear 3-4 days after exposure to the virus but can be up to 14 days later.
Members of the public are advised to minimise travel, increase personal awareness around hand hygiene and practice social distancing.
DO YOU NEED TO BE SCREENED?
Anyone who believes they have may have contracted the COVID-19 virus (ie: who have come in contact with a confirmed case or are showing symptoms: fever, sore throat, dry cough and shortness of breath) are advised in the first instance to:
- Call the free-call coronavirus hotline 1800 022 222 and receive advise on the best course of action depending on your symptoms and risks. Medical staff will direct people to the nearest hospital or respiratory clinic, or advise them to stay home and self-monitor, or contact their GP, or
- Contact your GP to arrange an appointment (let GP practice know in advance if you have symptoms) or
- Call the Murrumbidgee COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 831 099 for assessment (7.00 am – 9.00 pm)Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) continues preparations to ensure we have the health workforce ready for the anticipated rise in hospital admissions and people needing care at home over the coming weeks and months.
While many people are expected to experience mild to moderate symptoms which can be managed at home with the support of health care workers, those who experience more serious symptoms will need specialist care an appropriate local hospital. The MLHD Base Hospitals are equipped to support people with severe COVID-19 symptoms.
People who are most vulnerable are people over 70, people over 60 with chronic and complex illness, or people with weakened immunity and Aboriginal people with chronic illness.
A number of strategies are being activated to ensure appropriate numbers of qualified health teams are available, and that our clinicians are properly rested between shifts.
Nurses and doctors who have been working in other areas in the hospitals, such as surgery, are now being deployed to caring for people with COVID 19. Clinical staff who have moved into managerial and administrative roles are being deployed back to the front line.
We are also fast-tracking student nurses who have recently completed their training.
MLHD is launching a social media campaign to reach clinicians in the community to come forward and help.
We ask members of the public to remain calm and be vigilant in their hand hygiene and practice social distancing. Follow the advice given by NSW Health authorities and stay up to date with what’s going on the website at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases
TIPS to reduce potential for virus transmission
- Stay home as much as possible
- Wash your hands regularly
- Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people
- Stop shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly
- avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals.
All confirmed cases of COVID-19 are reported centrally by NSW Health.
You can also find the latest COVID-19 figures, including likely source of infection & sex and age groups for MLHD on website: